How to know if it's safe to swim in Lake Michigan

Published: Jul. 17, 2018 at 7:46 PM EDT
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The National Weather Service reports there are hazardous swim conditions along Lake Michigan on Tuesday.

Wave heights may reach three to five feet in the southeastern part of the lake.

The most important step you can take to keep your family safe at the beach is to do your research before you leave your home.

Check the weather forecast and never be afraid to ask questions in order to make sure your family has a fun and safe time at the beach.

“My parents brought me when I was just a baby every summer of my life and now that I'm a parent and a grandparent, I bring my kids and parents,” said Dave Benjamin, co-founder and executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

Dave Benjamin dedicates his work to educating the public about water safety.

His advice for determining if water is safe to swim in is simple.

“When you're looking at the water, is the wind blowing on shore, off shore, or side shore?” said Dave Benjamin. “Because each one of them can pose different types of hazards.”

If the wind is blowing onto the shore it's best to leave inflatables at home.

If the wind is blowing away from shore be sure to have a life jacket in case you get pulled out too far.

Wind blowing parallel to shore can pull you into rip currents going away from shore.

“If in doubt, speak to the beach supervisor or the lifeguards at the beach and ask them about the conditions today and what are the hazards,” said Benjamin.

“Keep your eye on your children, stay within an arm's reach,” said MaryAnn Best, who leads the Miller Citizens Corporation Water Safety Committee. “If you yourself cannot rescue the person that you're watching, most likely they should not be in the water and it's a day to play Frisbee and games on shore.”

If a someone in the water needs help, it's recommended that you designate someone to get help and then attempt to throw a floating device to the victim

Experts say it's best to stay out of the water to avoid becoming another victim, but should you decide to go in, put on a life jacket and take another floating device with you.

“We're not trying to scare anybody out of the water,” said Benjamin. “We want people to enjoy it responsibly, and healthy.”

“We don't want kids to be afraid of the water. We want them to get out and learn how to be out in the water properly and safely and know when to go and when not to go,” said Best.

For information on water safety courses, visit